There are very few car issues that are more irritating than a cracked windshield. Your car can work perfectly well but the only problem is that sight is slightly obscured. But, when it comes to driving, there are few things more important than visibility.
So, if your car is working fine and you just have a cracked windshield, is it okay to drive? The answer is “it depends”. The severity, size, and placement of the damage will all have a bearing on whether or not you can legally drive your car.
This isn’t a simple “yes” or “no” question. So, what are the rules? Here’s a basic breakdown of laws and guidelines for driving (or not) with a cracked windshield.
Although US states have the authority to set their own traffic laws. Windshield damage is covered under federal law.
This means that every state will have the same laws regarding driving with windshield damage.
With regard to a cracked windshield, the law states that a person cannot drive if:
- The cracks or chips are larger than ¾ inch in diameter.
- The crack is within 3 inches of another crack.
- The crack is directly within the driver’s line of sight.
So, if the damage to your windshield is out of your direct sight, smaller than ¾ inch, and at least 3 inches away from any other crack, you’re fine to drive. But, if there are multiple cracks in your windshield, they will all need to meet these requirements as well.
These are very sensible laws and will protect others as much as they will protect you. But, even if you are in a position where it is legal for you to drive, the real question isn’t if you can but if you should. If you’re reading this article, it’s hopefully so you can find out if you can legally drive your car over to the mechanics to get your windshield fixed.
Even if your windshield has cracks that are within these laws, it still isn’t a good idea for you to drive your car. Cracks can be distracting and they can also get worse. The depth and severity of the crack are also very important. So it’s important to get your windshield fixed as soon as possible.
Fixing Your Windshield
Even if it’s legal for you to drive, you should get your windshield fixed as soon as possible.
Here are some reasons why:
The crack can get worse
This is an important factor even when safety and visibility aren’t considered. The glass that your windshield is made from will be incredibly strong and durable.
This is why, even in a crash, your windshield will most likely emerge covered in cracks and chips but still together. (Of course, if it is a very serious crash, the windshield can become more damaged. But that is in very extreme cases).
But, movement can cause the crack to become worse due to the increased friction and potential jolting of the windshield. So, driving can further damage the windshield.
The crack can also become worse due to weather conditions. Direct sunlight, extreme heat, or extreme cold (especially snow or ice on the glass) can cause the crack to worsen.
It is distracting
Even if the crack is small and out of your eye line, you will still know that it is there.
You will be used to driving with a clear windshield, so when there is something changed it will be very obvious. And potentially distracting.
Another irritating thing about a cracked windshield is that you will need to get it fixed. This can mean a simple process of using resin to fill in a chip. Or, it can require the entire windshield being replaced.
Although the scale of these jobs is very different, both will cost money. When it comes to fixing your windshield, “Who is going to pay for it?” is an important question.
This will, of course, depend on the type of insurance you have. If you have comprehensive coverage, you are probably covered by your insurance.
Windshield damage is a pretty regular occurrence. It can happen simply through small stones being kicked up by your car. But, whether or not the damage is your fault will likely be another factor. The size and severity of the damage are also going to be important.
In the meantime
So, if you can’t get your windshield repaired soon, what are your alternatives?
Here are a few options to cover you until your windshield can be professionally repaired.
Keep your windshield covered.
To make sure you prevent as much additional damage as possible, it’s a good idea to cover up your cracked windshield. If you have a garage, make sure to keep your car in there as much as possible.
If you don’t have a covered space for your car, simply covering it with a windshield cover will help. Even if you use a windshield cover that is intended for snow, this can help.
Home Repair Kits
There are several different types of windshield home repair kits available. These are generally intended for small chips and can help as a temporary fix. Even if it just allows you to drive across town to the mechanic.
So, there’s pretty much everything you will need to know about driving with a cracked windshield. There are situations where you can drive with a cracked windshield. But when it comes to considering what is legal or illegal, it is always better to consider what you should do rather than what you can do.
If you are in a position where you will be okay without your car until you can get the windshield fixed, then it’s a good idea to stop driving. If you can’t get by without your car, then there are some situations where it will be okay for you to drive with a cracked windshield.
But, in situations like this, the best course of action is “if in doubt, don’t”.
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